This morning Michael Jackson died, and I have been running the gamut of emotions remembering my childhood as an avid MJ fan. I think it was when I was about four that I became fixated on him, and I remember that my uncle Pete had brought up his Thriller album on a visit from Melbourne for me to listen to. Michael then became my imaginary friend – even though I had two baby sisters, I was a very solitary child and would play by myself for hours and Michael would keep me company. When my sister Amanda was born, it meant that all three girls took up the back seats in the car, and Mum tells me (with a giggle) that I used to panic and protest that they were sitting on Michael and hurting him.
I would watch for the “We Are The World” clip to come on Rage on the weekends, anxiously anticipating when Michael would come in for the first chorus. (That song had ALL of my heroes, basically!) Michael used to say and do a lot of things to encourage peace and love, and I honestly felt that all people should have the same aims (oh naivety!)
When the Dangerous album came out I was about 10 years old and Mum and Dad bought us the cassette album, which we’d play in my awesome pink cassette player. We’d blast it in the garage and sing and dance with our neighbours until the very end of the album. Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual would typically follow.
By 1993 the sexual abuse accusations came out; I was 12 and becoming more and more confused about my childhood hero and former imaginary friend. I was around the same age as Jordan Chandler, so it was only natural that I had some degree of empathy with him. The media went crazy, the magazines my mother frequently bought started calling him Wacko Jacko (to be fair his behaviour did become quite erratic) so my love affair with him ended quite abruptly. I felt embarrassed and betrayed.
This morning my Mum called and Nick answered the phone. Mum arranged a BBQ for Sunday night, and then told Nick that Michael Jackson was rumoured to be dead. I was in a state of disbelief. Rumours were flying on Twitter and Facebook, and as the hour swung around and Michael’s death was confirmed, I put on Thriller and relived my childhood memories. They were good memories. Happy memories. Michael Jackson taught me to dance and sing, two things I still adore as an adult. He was my role model and I think a lot of my creative aptitude was encouraged in those years, by him and my family.
Vale Michael Jackson. My hero.